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Underwater fin surfing...

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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My hands are out in front as I go for the wave but as soon as I feel my feet rise a bit as the wave gets to me I pull my self into it with a big arm pull and then leave them by my side for the ride. I think we all need to pick a good vis day and get some video on here for people to look at.

Andy, I suggest you keep your hands out front. Waves arent always entirely predictable, neither is the bottom. Waves reflecting off a jetty recombine in wild ways, and sometimes they come straight back off the beach (those make for fun body-surfing, caught air a few times, very cool, but off topic) and if for some reason the physics of it should throw your feet up over your head, a broken finger or wrist is much better than a broken neck. Have fun, be safe.

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A note on why i ride the front of the wave vs the back like Andy. I think the front has more power, but more importantly, thats the way the dolphins do it and when it comes to stuff in the water they are the ones to follow. As for the arm position, always by my side. Yes my face has had some close calls with some reefs but it offers such a better feeling and view/visibility that its worth the risk in my mind (until i eat it one day, then i might change, ha ha). It has crossed my mind that if one day i'm able to ride some bigger, more powerfull waves breaking over a hazardous bottom, then i might wear some sort of helmet ...
Hey Noa!

thank you for the inspiring story!

I'll probably try fis surfing tomorrow!
should I use my omer milleniums or can I also use scuba fins ( they are hard to break!!!)

thanks again!
Hi Freediver81,

Noa may have a different opinion, but I would use shorter, stiffer fins. Scuba fins should work well if they are short. Some big guys regularly use jetfins to body surf. Longfins will be slower to accelerate and might come off your feet, especially if the surf is any size.

Good Luck and post your experiance,

Connor said exactly what i also think. The magic word is "acceleration" in order to catch the wave, then it's a matter of ballance and riding it. Have fun mate and let us know how you go.
Hi noa and connor!

thanks for the reply!

no waves yet! waiting for the surf to rise!

do you wear a mask and snorkel or do you use goggles?

can you be mor specific please on your techniques!

thanks again
Hey Freediver 81,
the answers to your questions are already in my previous posts, just go back and read it all. if you still have questions let me know. have fun with it and let us know how you go...

Read the posts (twice) and then try it, they make a lot more sense afterwards.

Some ideas,

mask and snorkel probably won't work, too much drag.

I use webbed gloves body surfing on waves bigger than 5 ft face, very handy for acceleration and to take the load off my ancient skinny legs. Underwater, this may not work (haven't tried yet), too much drag unless you ride hands back.

Goggles need to be small and tight so they don't get knocked off. Competitive swimmer goggles will probably work, but I ablsolutely hate'm and am looking for something else. Any ideas??

correct me if I"m wrong!

but I think it might be a good idea to put a nose clip so water want rush up your nostrils!!!:confused:
Freediver 81, a nose clip is not needed in my experience as you go forward pretty fast so the water does not rush up the nose.
Connor, about goggles, i use a goggle from Aqualung called Kaiman wich is pretty good for me when worn tight.
Some thoughts on manoeuvering - dolphin vs freedivers.

The first couple of posts (Noah & Laminar) talked about manoeuvering, but then that line of discussion died out without any real resolution.

From memory of film of dolphins using the bow-waves of boats to do this underwater surfing, I believe that the dolphins turn quickly by rolling slightly so that their belly faces the way they want to go, and then using pectoral and tail fins together to duck quickly in that direction. Is that the approach we should use?

One of the exercises I`ve watched Alaric Smith (uk no.1 finswimmer) and others do at my local club - Southampton Spitfires (run by Alaric`s brother Jason) - is swimming in spirals for the length of the pool. They make it look easy, but my attempts so far have been so bad I am almost afraid to try again. Have managed better with the roll onto one side, swim most of the length like that, then roll level again - perhaps all that`s needed to turn like a Dolphin?

Would be interested to know if that`s how to do it - or equally if I`ve missed something obvious and am proposing rubbish!

Whatever, it`s been a fascinating thread to read and think about.
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Hello John,
i think your theory has merit but since i don't consider myself a great finswimmer i would have a hard time commenting. it would be a good idea talking to the finswimmers you know, explain to them what you want to achieve and see what they have to say (keep me posted about it too). personally i just use my head, neck and uper body to give direction. its a rule that the body always follows the head, so thats where it all starts, followed by the neck and so forth. appart from that it all comes down to feel. i know thats not very a precise desciption but thats what i base my technique on. also, don't forget that dolphins have it much easier than us, having their pectoral and dorsal fins to aid direction. so we need to compesate, or glue fins on our body (i'm experimenting with ideas on that, i'll let you know if it develops).
Hi Noa and John,

I tend to think of my body as a foil when I'm body surfing or swimming with great speed or sinking on a constant weight dive, with my head, shoulders and upper back as the leading edge (the "fat" part of the wing) and my legs and monofin as the trailing edge.

To effect any trim up or down, I alter the angle of attack on my body by tighteting the abs and adding draft to the trailing edge, which is the fin (flaps down). This increases lift and I rise. To go down, I flatten out to "stall" with my back muscles. It is I think essentially the same manoeuver as Noa describes above, just from a different perspective. This works for me, although I have not expressly tried it body surfing underwater as Noa does. I am going to where waves are in a few weeks and will experiment. With my arms by my sides I can also added the "flap" action for trim.

Side to side trim is more problematic, but still possible when you consider how pressure differences and drag can help you to steer. You can rotate onto your side and apply the same up and down trim method in the new plane. But at high speeds, I wonder if perhaps this is too clumsy?

Another method is to momentarily increase drag on one of the arms by letting it slide out of the streamlined possible, acting as a partial brake and curving you around its axis like putting your hand down on the snow when you are sledding. You could do this even with your hands out in front, although it would be much easier by your sides.
Yet another method (needs testing for higher speeds) is to make use of the torsion available between the upper body and the fin. By lowering one foot relative the the other and dorsiflexing one foot and plantarflexing the other, and also dropping one shoulder to match, you could put the fin and most of your body on a angle much like an aeroplane banked for a turn. Whereas doplhins are relatively cylindrical, we are flatter, so we can curl the edges to apply different kinds of lift to make up for our lack of pectoral and dorsal fins. Thoughts?

Obvioulsy, stereo fins are better for steering and trim, but I love the takeoff with the monofin.

Noa, any news on simulating pectoral fins?

A helmet would probably be a great idea for big surf, although if you are going to get pile-driven into the coral or sand bottom head first, it's not going to do much to save your spinal cord. Good idea to wear one though. Don't most conventional body surfers put one hand out when they surf on the surface?

What I would love to see someday soon is a photograph of someone dolphin-surfing inside a nice big wave from shore, just like those photos of dolphins. Or an underwater photograph. Videos would be a plus. Do you think there's enough interest to start a contest?

2005 Dolphin Surfing Contest
1. Longest ride (witnessed-honor code or video but no blackouts please!)
2. Best photo
3. Best video sequence
4. Special prize for any tricks (shooting out of the water at high speed, uw ride--to wave face ride--to uw ride (wow), and "smacking the lip" (whatever that means for dolphin surfing).

Prizes to be announced, but we'll see if we can get DB to kick in something or else come up with our own prizes. Any suggestions on prizes and categories?

The idea of riding the wave below the surface (getting pulled along) and then suddenly adding a burst of speed to reach the wave face and then bodysurf as most people do and then suddenly duck back into the wave to return to the underwater position just makes my head spin. How cool would THAT be! It would require a long wave but perhaps you could catch the wave really early, long before it breaks, ride it uw (as proven by the foil boards of Rush Randle) until it starts to break and then surge forward to ride it in on the face. I guess ducking back under would be impractical and likely exhausting, but to do it even for a second would be cool.

I also have dreams of riding the face and then doing a sharp turn that sends me flying into the air. Or I suppose, one could try angling sharply upward while underwater and breaching the surface that way. I've managed to breach and jump out of the water so that my fin actually clears, so this would not be impossible.

I need to go somewhere warm where I can experiment all day. Anyone got a couch or a backyard for a tent they can loan me for a week or two this winter?

Okay, enough dreaming...
Pete Scott
Vancouver, BC
Thanks all for the new ideas. Love the contest idea. On the hands forward or back, I've tried it both ways, but not enough to be certain which works better underwater. On the surface, sometimes its one sometimes the other. Underwater, hands forward seems tricky, I get deflected real fast by the leverage the water can put on my arms and hands. Hands back seems to work better, but makes me real nervious about getting pile drived. In the small waves I've been out in , 4 ft face and less, there is so little water underneath me that being piled drived seems like no small risk, In a beach break over sand in 5 ft or bigger, there is so much water between me and the bottom that I would not worry about it too much.

if you buy or rent [ame=http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00006673Q/qid=1102558517/sr=8-1/ref=pd_csp_1/102-6020312-2821739?v=glance&s=dvd&n=507846]Laird Hamilton's DVD [/ame] there is a good segment of about a minute long in high definition
I like your ideas Pete. but first, never say "enough dreaming" because without dreamers there wouldn't be much at all on this planet and second i would ultimately keep such an activity contest free. its too beautifull and pure to turn it into a contest like all the rest. so a gathering, a big party, where the sport is demonstrated, even mediatized and publicized, but no comp. i say lets learn to live without trying to out do each other. just join together for the love and enjoyment of the ocean. maybe DB would like to be part of something like that. for the time being though lets just see how we can develop this type of surfing that is so close to our freediver souls.
Hi Noa,

I agree. Just got carried away. What I really would love is just the opportunity to share this experience with other people like yourself either via video, photos or in person.

I went surfing over the holidays at Tofino on Vancouver Island, BC. One day we had 7-8 foot waves and it was pretty nice.

Didn't get a chance to try the dolphin surfing because the water was 8C and I was too bundled up in my 3mm elios under a 3/4 windsurfing steamer.

I would like to do a trip this winter to try this out for real. Any suggestions? Sandy bottom, waves 4-8 feet, warm water 16C-30C, and other people around to play with, not too many board surfers to kill me.

Pete Scott
Vancouver, BC
Hey Pete,
Too true my friend, sharing just amplifies any experience, especialy when it's with your kind of people. The conditions you mention to start out are pretty ideal, clean mellow waves, not too shallow sandy bottom, warm water idealy (so you don't need a wetsuit to avoid the buoyancy) and in an REALLY ideal situation you would have dolphins there to teach you how it's done best !
Let us know how you go. What i would personally like is for us all to toy around and see what we can learn on our own. Then we should all arrange to have some sort of gathering where we all go jump in the water, play and exchange techniques. I'm sure it will happen in time...
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